Patti Smith - Horses (1975/2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz
Artist: Patti Smith
Genre: Rock, New Wave, Proto-Punk, Garage Rock, Art Rock
Label: © Arista Records
Release Date: 1975/2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Recorded: 1975 at Electric Lady Studios in New York City, New York
#44 on Rolling Stones' "500 Greatest Albums of All Time"
With the exception of Bob Dylan, few rock n' rollers explored poetry within the rock format as thoroughly as Patti Smith. By the mid-70's, Smith had been a regular poetry-reader in New York City clubs for years, and with a deep admiration for The Rolling Stones, it was only natural to set these poems to music. With an exciting rock band to back her up (including renowned music critic Lenny Kaye on guitar), Smith built up a following on the strength of the band's trance-inducing live shows and her thrillingly liberated vocal style, which built on Dylan's mid '60s expressiveness with ecstatic, octave-jumping yelps.
Produced by ex-Velvet Underground bassist John Cale, „Horses“ was considered 'punk rock' when it was first released, but there was much more to it. Smith had a gift for being able to paint vivid pictures with her prose, as evidenced by a pair of 10-minute long epics, 'Birdland' and 'Land' (which consisted of 3 sections--'Horses,' 'Land of A Thousand Dances,' and 'La Mer'). Other tracks are more conventional, yet just as gripping--a cover of 'Gloria,' 'Free Money,' and 'Kimberly,“. „Horses“ is a classic.
It isn't hard to make the case for Patti Smith as a punk rock progenitor based on her debut album, which anticipated the new wave by a year or so: the simple, crudely played rock & roll, featuring Lenny Kaye's rudimentary guitar work, the anarchic spirit of Smith's vocals, and the emotional and imaginative nature of her lyrics -- all prefigure the coming movement as it evolved on both sides of the Atlantic. Smith is a rock critic's dream, a poet as steeped in '60s garage rock as she is in French Symbolism; "Land" carries on from the Doors' "The End," marking her as a successor to Jim Morrison, while the borrowed choruses of "Gloria" and "Land of a Thousand Dances" are more in tune with the era of sampling than they were in the '70s. Producer John Cale respected Smith's primitivism in a way that later producers did not, and the loose, improvisatory song structures worked with her free verse to create something like a new spoken word/musical art form: Horses was a hybrid, the sound of a post-Beat poet, as she put it, "dancing around to the simple rock & roll song." --AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Patti Smith sounded both young and old on her 1975 debut, Horses: young because only a young punk can slink into the spotlight and sell an opening line like, "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine"; old, because she was dead serious and sophisticated, an ur-punk but also a poetess and a singer who knew to stop this close to overindulgence. Like her hero Jim Morrison she wrote absurd verses more fit for a diary than a rock 'n' roll record, but could also follow them with lines that genuinely terrified.
Smith is the fountainhead for the punks, grrrls, rockers, and artists that have worn the shit out of this record in their most raw, needy hours, and who study and mimic everything she does with that voice-- which is all rends, tears, and bite marks, and no clean cuts. So it feels cheap not to put this fully on a pedestal, even if "Land"'s meandering free verse makes a poor bookend for the enraged lust of "Gloria", and "Elegie" is a turgid closer. The flaws don't matter: Horses is an album of its time-- not because it's dated, but because it precariously captures a phase in Smith's life, and when all the raw elements fall in place, it feels miraculous.
Take "Birdland". Just like in a jazz ballad, you can practically hear the band breathing in sync, and the slightest misjudgment would screw up the flow of Smith's surreal-- but straightforwardly powerful-- poem. But Lenny Kaye's guitar stretches effortlessly from post-funeral ballad to ecstatic, crazy fury, and Smith's performance is fierce and horribly unbeautiful. "It was as if someone had spread butter on all the fine points of the stars/ 'Cause when he looked up they started to slip." Holy God is she a poet, and she hurls those words so accurately you want to scream and give up too.
That was 40 years ago. Today, Smith is unavoidably grown up, stuck in the canon, and well defined, and that's the artist we hear on the bonus disc in this package, a live track-by-track recital of Horses from the Meltdown Festival in London, this past June. She took the stage with old friends Tom Verlaine and Lenny Kaye on guitar and Jay Dee Daugherty on drums. They knocked the roof off-- but they don't match the original. "Birdland" is fitful and noisy, the segue from "Lands" back to a "Gloria" reprise seems like a cop-out, and Smith's wild poetess thing has settled into something a little more, hey, settled, like when she complains about how much time we spend on email and Blackberrys. "Elegie" takes far more meaning now that she has a list of loved ones to commemorate, like Robert Mapplethorpe, or her own husband. But play it back to back with the debut, and instead of a transformative force, you hear an old familiar voice cranking about George Bush.
Here's the thing about growing up: You don't know when it happens until later, but if you could catch it, it would be an amazingly quick moment-- like the point where you toss a ball in the air and it comes to a complete halt before it starts to fall to the ground. When we talk about youth and rock and roll, we're looking for that moment, of not being one thing or the other but of straddling both, of making mistakes that are above and beneath us, of a crest of energy as the ball gets ready to stop. We're talking about Smith changing from the twentysomething poet who decided to add guitar to her readings, and about an artist who can ape the last generation even as she spawns the next one. Or a performance like her old take of "My Generation", where she and John Cale knock the shit out of the by-then-ancient Who classic and Smith wraps with the wail, "I'm so young, I'm so goddamn young"-- and she's still, barely, right. --Chris Dahlen, Pitchfork
1. Gloria: In Excelsis Deo/Gloria 05:54
2. Redondo Beach 03:24
3. Birdland 09:14
4. Free Money 03:50
5. Kimberly 04:25
6. Break It Up 04:00
7. Land: Horses/Land of a Thousand Dances/La Mer (De) 09:26
8. Elegie 02:41
Patti Smith – vocals, guitar
Jay Dee Daugherty – drums, consultant
Lenny Kaye – guitar, bass guitar, vocals
Ivan Kral – bass guitar, guitar, vocals
Richard Sohl – keyboards
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